Coffee Share 210213: Volunteering To Survive

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

Greetings all.

It’s been a quieter, grayer and wetter week here in west Sonoma County, California.  February always seems to be something of a battle between winter, which by now has served out most of the worst it has, and spring with all kinds of delicacies we could discuss. Winter is struggling to keep us chilled and damp but spring simply will not be denied it’s turn to work its magic by elbowing its way in from both the longer and warmer days and the moist soil from which all kinds of things are now coming back to life.

Today, to make this very point, I want to share a story of valiant volunteerism in the tree kingdom.  Our next door neighbor has two mature ornamental cherry trees that share one of our fence lines.  About three years ago, no doubt with the assistance of some bird driven by god-given instincts, a couple of these inedible cherries found their way to a very shady corner of our property where, on one of my walking tours of the backyard, I found them sprouted and growing slowly past the height of about a foot each.

Their location was not at all promising. Dense tall trees already claimed the full canopy above them and, while they would almost certainly survive, they would never thrive or become a full and beautiful and enjoyed from this darker corner of our yard.  So, both needed a new home.

Transplanting volunteer plants has always appealed to me.  They cost nothing other than your time and real estate and represent some kind of cooperation between myself and nature and the seasons.  I have a corner of our yard that is not as private as I would like.  I could go buy a tree, but examining the parent of these two sprouts, I knew they could grow to be just the right size to close off a view that one nearby neighbor could use to watch our yard from their back windows.  So a plan was hatched and part one executed. First they both needed time to grow some.

One sprout was getting taller fast and by the third year had reached (perhaps too tall) the grand height of about 6 feet. This guy was singled out to be first and at the end of last winter, I arrived with a large container and shovel to dig him out with as much of the root ball as possible.

This is where things could and did start to go wrong.  I had dug a fresh hole where I wanted to transplant the sprouted volunteer so it was ready with a pile of fresh smelly soil from which many spaghetti squashes now trace their own heritage.  I knew the mulch would be healthy and helpful to the new guy. So, my shovel went in to start the wide circle around the sapling.  I knew I was plenty wide to avoid the main tap root which almost always goes straight down, but of course, after several cutting plunges around the young tree, I hit something too solid to be good news.  As these things go, once started, it’s hard to adjust and in this case I had little choice to finish the task and when I liberated the tree-lette with its attached root rich dirt clod, I found indeed, it’s tap root had gone sideways for lord-knows what reason and had be cleanly sliced off leaving less than a foot for the transplant. 

cherry tree vol 1After 2 years of planning and building hopes around what this tree could look like given a chance to stand and grow in partial full sunshine where it would share the sky only with 3 mature redwoods on one side, that one vital root was sliced short.  I guessed this tree was not as likely to survive, but since all was ready, I decided to give it a try, a chance to pull itself back to life.  Into the hole it went with plenty of mulch and water and daily attention, a fertilizer treatment in mid-summer and daily visits to encourage it along.

It weathered summer well enough and dropped all it’s leaves after showing it retained the ability to grow a few new ones and one vigorous new branch down low.  Okay then. You’re still alive but winter is coming.

As I watched, and watered, and generally fussed over him, the spout was kept damp, tied back for support from our nastiest winds and today I’m pleased to let you know, after all this dendrology drama, the ties have been removed, the branches remain flexible (as opposed to stiff dead sticks) and, YES, we have new blossoms, and bees and a tree I now think has sunk it’s roots deep enough to grow, thrive and survive.

cherry tree blossom 2The blossoms are very small, about the size of a small thumbnail. but when a mature tree is covered with them, they’re gorgeous.

It’s nearby parent tree, an ancient thing with thick wrinkled truck and primary branches, has been trimmed back many times over the years but today stands over 15 feet tall and looks more than ready to take on the coming spring.  Our little guy is now about 7 feet tall, sparely dotted with live buds so I think the experiment has been a success.  It may be time to think about that unsuspecting second sprout this year.

In other news, just because I think it is so cool, I wanted to report that the local squad of red shouldered hawks are still with us, fighting back against rise of rodents and snakes and anything small enough to crawl along, be seen and carried off by these amazing birds. We have a new housing development nearby and many of the rodents who used to live unmolested in the field are now stirred up and roving about looking for new home sites themselves.

Did you listen to the clip I posted last week?  Click below if not. Thy guy from Bird Watch does a great job of describing this hawk. As I walk up and down our long driveway or about the neighborhood, I can hear and sometimes see them drifting on the warm air currents, spying on the world below or zipping down and out of sight to close the deal on something beyond some fence line and crying out their special code to each other.  They have brought a whole new ambience the the neighborhood. From my home, you can hear them from about a half mile away.

red shoulder hawk

In other news, I tweaked my new fictional story from last week.  It’s a conversation between an older man and a much younger woman with a quietly weird relationship. What I could not find earlier was a cleaner, sharper ending and a photo of the woman that would underline the strangeness of this relationship. Guys in particular, check out this photo then tell me if you agree her eyes alone are a portent to trouble.

If you enjoy unexpected twists, I hope you’ll check out my very short story titled:  The Fading Fern Frond Brooch

That’s it for me this week.  Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be around to visit your share shortly.


Blessings all! 

GW bio card 4

31 thoughts on “Coffee Share 210213: Volunteering To Survive

  1. I’m so very glad both your tree and the hawks are doing well! I loved to read your story about the tree and really hope it will continue to grow and thrive. I hope so will the other one eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad your transplanted tree survived. Our cotoneaster trees were originally very small offspring from trees that we cut down on the other side of the yard, where we now have a 18′ x 24′ workshop. (I must get out before spring budding to cut back the cotoneasters, again. They continue to spread and spread out.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad the tree seems to be doing fine as the winter closes out. I love watching hawks, so cool those new “neighbors” seem to be sticking around. Hope you have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – and I think that trees a the gift of metaphorical magic to anyone so disposed to stare at them long enough to hear their quiet statements. I think you are correct Beaton.

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  4. I love the idea of cherry trees! I am not sure I have seen one in person. Transplanting cuttings or parts of plants is such an interesting idea. Something I have done before many times. My Oma used to have a lilac bush that I transplanted to several houses and then after several moves I gave up on plants.

    Love the blossoms that you showed. Amazing when we care and nuture something that even after some struggles it blooms!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tammy, Thanks for visiting. They are gorgeous trees even if mine needs several years to mature. I so agree with you about doing such things and then moving. I invested a lot into our first home, only to leave it to someone else when we had to move to follow a job that lasted less than 5 years My sister saw that home listed for sale a while back and it sold for about twice what I had to sell for and I’m missed some cool things that I had built into that place. Oh well. Such is life and real estate.

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    1. Hi Diana
      Someday it will be, but it will likely be someone else’s child who will enjoy its shade. I’m now older and approaching retirement and we will move to some state where taxes are lower. I hope someone will own and appreciate its beauty.
      Thanks for giving my essay a read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a beautiful little tree, Gary. I’m thinking about maybe digging up a little flowerbed out front where the lawn people just can’t seem to mow… it looked awful all summer. If I can, I’m considering getting a small bench and maybe a bird bath to put there… we’ll see. I’ll have to get approval for the flowerbed from the front office…and the manager doesn’t like me for some reason. Never did anything to cross her, just doesn’t like me. anyway, we’re hunkering down here for a winter storm with several inches of snow and/or ice expected over most of the week. Temps are in the 20’s with negative windchills… pray for safe commutes. Hubby says he’s cold so we gotta head out, now. Need to run by grocery for eggs and some canned soup just in case..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. brrr Bear. Kentucky is one of the states we are thinking of moving to as we retire and flee the tax-crazed politicians of California. My wife is no fan of cold, but for the right house. . . hmm.

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      1. We have horrid taxes. Go to the Kentucky state website and look at a form…. For simple folk like us with no material wealth and no property the tax forms are a nightmare. I paid 38% in state taxes last year alone on an income of less than 45k. The area is fairly nice. There’s a lot of racism and drug traffic, too. But, from what a looked up about California it is better. Crime wise… Well, we lived in the “hood” area of Columbus Ohio before we moved here and we were never threatened, attacked, or robbed, or had our pets stolen or possessions vandalized….all of which has happened since we moved to kentucky. The libraries here are very poor in intelligent books…most being elementary level reading. The literacy rate is low per capita. We moved here 1. For work 2. To care for grandma k. Gram is gone now, and we’re trying to leave… But work in the present day is scarce at best. When hubby decides to Go with disability and retires we’re getting out of dodge. On the flip… Southwest Ohio is nice…hocking hills region especially. sorry to seem so negative but reality is what it is.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. On the flip side, our relationship strengthened here. When you have no one but your spouse to interact with its bound to happen. I tried to join groups at church and in community but prejudice and sheer stupidity were too much to tolerate. The back biting and jealousy … Grrr… Now, I only come out for Friday fictioneers and coffee share here.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, and public transit is a joke. Example… To catch bus to ride to store 2 miles away you board 6 buses and transverse 2 states. And, it will take you 2-4hours one way. I walked it one way in 45 minutes carrying 4 bags of groceries…oh, you’re only allowed 1 small bag on bus…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That is so awesome Gary! I loved reading about your cherry tree πŸ™‚
    I finished reading Earth Abides now. It was a magnificent book, thank you for recommending it. Through most of the book I was hoping that they would move just a little bit north, and start gardening πŸ™‚ A wonderful read, it gave me much to think about. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maria. Thanks for visiting. I knew you’d enjoy Earth Abides. You can likely now count on it haunting you for many years as it has me and many of my friends. You would have loved the author. He was a great man who loved our planet and California in particular.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do think about the book almsot daily, one of the books you’ll remember. I’ll probably have to look into getting his other books as well. Have you read “Where the crawdad sing”? It’s on many top lists now, and I read it this week. It was also one of those books I’ll remember, very interesting. I hope you are enjoying a great week.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Our son and daughter-in-law transplanted a large ornamental plum tree a few years ago on their wedding anniversary. My DIL romantically named it the “Anniversary Tree of Love” – over the next couple of years it struggled valiantly and then turned up its toes and died a miserable death. I think the DIL learned the deep and valuable lesson of never attaching meaning to a transplanted tree. Glad you’re having more success with yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leanne,
      This is a sad situation but of course you’re right. All new plants of any kind are at risk when young and un-established, even trees. I hope there was too much emotion invested in this tree before it expired.

      Thanks also for spending some time with my coffee share. Hope to see you back next weekend.

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